San Lorenzo briefs | Schools upgrade infrastructure, but urgent cooling still needed in some classrooms

4 San Lorenzo schools are set to get air conditioning, but not for a couple years

Several San Lorenzo schools are grappling with a lack of air conditioning and teachers are calling for immediate solutions.

On Tuesday, Sept. 5, the San Lorenzo Unified School District Board of Education approved an $18.9 million contract with heating, ventilation and air conditioning company Climatec to install air conditioning at San Lorenzo High School, Hillside Elementary School, Edendale Middle School and Colonial Acres Elementary School, as well as upgrade existing HVAC systems at other district schools. The contract includes other upgrades, including electrifying the buildings and installing sunshade structures in dining and play areas at nine schools. The bulk of the funding, about $15 million, is coming from one-time federal COVID-19 funds intended to improve air quality in classrooms, among other things.

However, the construction is expected to span 18 to 24 months, leaving students to cope with hot classrooms in the meantime. Temperatures have already exceeded 90 degrees Fahrenheit on a couple occasions since the start of school on Aug. 16.

Karen Rosa, head of the San Lorenzo Education Association, welcomed the plans but insisted that students require relief now, pointing out that many students also lack air conditioning at home. The union was able to secure a fan for every classroom, but Rosa said a single fan isn’t particularly effective at cooling a whole classroom so teachers have resorted to buying extra fans themselves.

Superintendent Daryl Camp acknowledged that the classrooms have been warm during his visits, and Rosa suggested collaborating on ways to keep the classrooms cool ahead of heatwaves.

San Lorenzo Unified celebrates $213M modernization

The San Lorenzo Unified School District celebrated the completion of a 15-year, $213 million modernization of its 17 school sites with a ribbon-cutting event at Lorenzo Manor Elementary School on Thursday, Aug. 24.

Among the improvements are new classroom buildings, updated drop-off areas, playgrounds, restroom upgrades and roofing improvements across the district, according to a district press release. These enhancements were made possible by the passage of the $83 million Measure O bond in 2008 and the $130 million Measure B bond in 2018.

“Even though many of these individual projects are not necessarily things that would be immediately visible to someone who walks through the schools,” Behrooz Danish, the district’s director of facilities and construction, said in a statement, “cumulatively what’s happened is a total transformation of our facilities, particularly the elementary schools.”

The transformation includes new security measures, updated restrooms, roofing, parent drop-off areas and improved paths of travel at all schools.

Caption: Students line up at Lorenzo Manor Elementary School, which has undergone significant infrastructure improvements like schools across the San Lorenzo Unified School District. (Courtesy of San Lorenzo Unified School District)

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